the taste space

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding & The Blender Girl Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on April 8, 2014

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.

The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.

However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.

This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.

She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.

The Blender Girl Cookbook cover

 

She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:

Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
Penang Curry
Pad Thai
Anti-Oxidant Avenger
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte

PS. This is my submission for Alphabakes and Random Recipes.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl with Garlicky Spinach & A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on April 5, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower, Garlicky Spinach and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl (& A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party)

One of the main things I will miss when I leave Houston will definitely be the people: my friends, my co-workers and the awfully friendly strangers. If it weren’t for connecting so well with my co-workers, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Houston as much. And you know how I know we met special people?

They were not only amused but also excited about our idea for a mustard tasting party.

This idea had been brewing for nearly as long as our idea for a tamale party. Somehow, I managed to convince Rob, that yes, I wanted the mustard variety pack at Trader Joe’s, and yes, I knew we only had 6 months left. Oh and yes, we already had another 3-4 other mustard varieties.

We proposed the idea: help us eat our mustards, let’s have a mustard tasting party. We figured we had enough mustard to sample, but everyone also brought their own favourite mustard as well. Collectively, we had 12 mustards. Everything from a Mango Diablo mustard, to a honey and whiskey mustard, to a creole mustard and nearly the entire gamut of Trader Joe’s mustards. ;)

Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

The question, of course, was what to serve at a (vegan-friendly) mustard tasting party.

I loved the suggestion for small boiled potatoes for tasting the mustards individually. I also made plain roasted cauliflower and Rob cut up some pita bread to serve with fresh hummus. Our guests provided some chips, pretzels, sausages and beer [including ginger beer].

The small potatoes were a resounding success. I was impressed that they all looked different when sampling, too.

Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

For those curious: I think we all really liked Trader Joe’s Basil Mustard. The El Diablo Hot & Spicy mustard also earned high praise, but I didn’t try it since I was warned it was uber spicy. I also highly recommend Stadium Mustard that our friend brought us from Cleveland, which sadly did not make an appearance because we ate it all before the party (you can see it pictured here with my vegan cheese-stuffed sausage and sauerkraut, though).

We had a bit of odds-and-ends leftovers after the party and they combined fabulously. So fabulously, I just had to share it. Knowing that hummus+mustard worked well in my vegan deviled eggs, I worked with a mummus sauce (mustard + hummus). Worried my rice bowl may be too beige, I added the leftover roasted cauliflower and hummus to freshly sauteed garlicky spinach. I was thinking Terry’s Sesame Wow Greens would have been great, but I went with something more simple: spinach and garlic finished with toasted sesame oil. It complemented the hummus really well. (Of note, I just made a single serving but increased the amount to serve 4 in the recipe below).

Leftovers need not be boring and I may never have had the forethought (or energy) to make such an involved recipe. But I highly encourage you to try it out. :)

Not that I need new mustards right now, but which one is your favourite? Have you ever made homemade mustard?

Roasted Cauliflower, Garlicky Spinach and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl (& A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party)

This is my submission to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge.
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Mango Chana Masala

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 29, 2014

Mango Chana Masala

It is the most wonderful time of the year….

Not because the spring weather in Houston is positively happiness (it is!) or it is the beginning of a cycling season (it is!)…. but it is the beginning of mango season and now we live closer to the mangoes!

Nearly every year, Rob will hunt down Alphonso mangoes. The fancy mangoes flown in from India. I am not sure whether they will be coming to Houston, but it does not matter. There are cheap and plentiful Mexican Ataulfos to be found. Last week, we picked up a whole case for $5. (We split it with a friend to keep our eating crop fresh. I know we’ll be replenishing a few times, no worries)

We tend to keep the mangoes plain and unadorned (at least I do, Rob adds it to his breakfast granola) but used some frozen mangoes for this fun twist on chana masala. It kind of a combination of my Mango BBQ Beans combined with Indian flavours. While I have used amchoor powder (raw mango powder) to make a nice chana masala, this was a fun twist since it was hot and sweet, too. The heat came from our newest infatuation: roasted hatch chiles. The flavours complemented each other nicely, especially with the tang from the tomatoes and the earthy tones from the cumin, mustard seeds and garam masala, too. Not too overly spiced.

Rob actually made a double batch of this and we shared it with friends. We told them to give an honest opinion of the dish. It was the first time we tried it, so we could handle their feedback. Like us, they loved it! And I hope you do, too.

Here’s to a prosperous mango season!

Mango Chana Masala

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Kale Ribbons and Chickpeas with Curried Spaghetti Squash

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 25, 2014

Kale Ribbons with Curried Spaghetti Squash

I am sorry but not sorry, Canada.

I am sorry that this was one really long and cold winter. But I am not sorry I missed it.

Last week, I returned to Canada. In Montreal, I was greeted by mountains of snow banks that still had to melt away. However, by the end of my stay, a fresh blanket of snow covered the city in near white-out conditions. My flight home was cancelled but Air Canada thoughtfully put us on a later flight, skirting the worst of the storm.

(People poo-poo Air Canada but I like flying with them, especially compared to any airline based in the US. I can catch up on my movie watching (no additional charge!) and sometimes they even give me pretzels (HA!)).

Kale Ribbons with Curried Spaghetti Squash

Knowing full well that warm meals are still in season (even Houston’s weather has tamed somewhat), I am unashamedly sharing yet another winter squash recipe. In March. Because, yes, they are still on my counter and based on my last post with kabocha squash, still in your kitchens, too. Plus, this dish was too good to hide until next year.

It is a deceivingly simple recipe: spaghetti squash, kale, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked paprika and curry powder. In fact, it sounded downright weird. However, after I tasted it, it made sense. A lot of curries are tomato-based and while I don’t use tomato, sun-dried tomatoes deliver intense bursts of tomato flavour without sauciness. Smoked paprika adds a different twist so this isn’t a boring, bland curry. Chickpeas add protein and bulk. The kale is more earthy but a barely noticeable way to eat some greenery. The spaghetti squash is merely a backdrop but sops up the flavours deliciously. This dish made fabulous leftovers, allowing the flavours to meld even further.

Did you get walloped with more snow this weekend, too?

Kale Ribbons with Curried Spaghetti Squash

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Raw Dolmas with a Cilantro-Tahini Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 18, 2014


Did you know March is
National Nutrition Month? While I celebrate proper nutrition every day (ok, 3 times a week here), I was encouraged by Erika to join Houston’s VegOut! challenge to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days.

Thirty different vegetables in thirty days? Even as a veggie-loving gal, that’s a pretty huge feat. Look at my sidebar. I have favourites. Barring onions, my top ten are: garlic (227 recipes, and I don’t even tag all my garlic), tomato (139 recipes), ginger (121 recipes), carrot (110 recipes), red bell pepper (82 recipes), spinach (64 recipes), mushroom (50 recipes), kale (44 recipes), zucchini (44 recipes) and broccoli (36 recipes).


Erika
 may have won the first challenge with her black bean and veggie burgers (with 15 vegetables!) but I thought I’d try my best with their second challenge: my best jicama dish.

No stranger to jicama, I have enjoyed mostly in Mexican-inspired dishes: a raw burrito and as a cranberry-jicama salsa. This time, I decided to switch avenues and was inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. Packed with vegetables (7 if you include olives, but I think they are technically fruits), these are a fun twist on dolmas, stuffed grape leaves.


Instead of cooked rice, the jicama is riced into small pieces. Jicama is quite moist, so it needs a thorough drying before being incorporated with the cucumber, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you don’t have jicama, cauliflower would work, too. Dill and mint were used for the filling and cilantro for the green tahini dipping sauce. With all the fresh ingredients, the flavours really popped.

This was also the first time I tried grape leaves raw. I mean, without steaming them first. Steaming makes them more tender and less salty, but this was a quick and easy way to enjoy them.

Do you think you could eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days? How do you like to eat jicama?


PS. This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays and to VegOut Jicama: #vegoutjicama #vegoutrfs

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Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on March 4, 2014

Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans

Vegan cookbook lovers rejoice! Today is a great day for vegan cookbooks. I counted at least 3 different vegan cookbooks being published today.

For my deluge of cauliflower recipes, I really appreciated Eileen’s comment about food trends. Basically, she said seeing an ingredient repeatedly can actually be quite boring. So in that vein, instead of reviewing the more popular vegan options, I thought I’d share a hidden gem: Meatless All Day.

Meatless All Day Cover

At first, I was hesitant to review it because it is not a vegan-only cookbook. Instead, there is a mix of vegan and vegetarian options. Vegan options are clearly marked but in the rest of the cookbook, some recipes use eggs and cheese (and sometimes butter, but that is an easily solvable problem). However, the recipes are inventive and even if you are vegan, you can gain inspiration from different combinations of ingredients or the gorgeous photography. I am itching to try the Miso-Glazed Tofu which was inspired by Nobu’s Miso-Glazed Black Cod (which I loved in my pre-vegan days).

In truth, the real reason I wanted to touch bases with the publisher was because I desperately wanted to share this recipe. Because I know my beans recipes, and this was possibly one of my favourite bean dishes to date.

Black beans are simmered with a Farmhouse ale, cumin, tomatoes, a touch of coconut milk and lime juice and if you ask me, the best part was using the roasted hatch chiles. They are a fairly mild chile but add a lot of flavour which melded so well with the rest of this dish. The dish hit all the markers: sweet, salty, spicy and bitter perfectly.

Shiner FM 966 Ale

For the beer haters in the audience (that’s me!), you cannot taste the bitter hoppiness (thank goodness!) but it adds a different dimension to the beans. If you are a beer hater and unsure what to make with the rest of your can of beer, may I suggest beer-soaked fries?

A side of roasted plantain chips would be great too. The original recipe was actually a Cuban Black Bean Stew with plantain chips, but I simmered away the stock until it became a caramelized thick coating instead. Delicious. And easier to transport as lunch leftovers, too. Do I know why it is considered Cuban? Not at all..

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH!  To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite meatless meal. The winner will be selected at random on March 15, 2014. Good luck!

Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans

PS. This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair.

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Käsekrainer (Cheese-Stuffed Sausage) & High Protein Vegan Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 25, 2014

Käsekrainer from High Protein Vegan

I have been meaning to review Hilda’s High Protein Vegan for a while. I bought it last year while exploring more protein-rich ideas (I thought it was a great deal, under $5 for a kindle version). Despite many people poo-pooing protein needs, I have long been a proponent of higher protein intake. This is especially important for active people (see my first rant here). With Carrie’s recent post about Fatigue and the Ex Vegan Phenomenon and Sayward’s older post about low cholesterol and protein on a vegan diet, both highlight the importance of proper nutrition. One needs adequate calories (including protein! and fat!) on a restrictive vegan diet which is naturally high in carbohydrates (see my review of vegan nutrition guides here). Why harp on protein? For me, it can be the most difficult to obtain on a vegan diet. 

Eat beans and legumes. That includes tofu. Hilda’s book may be soy-free but soy is ok. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (spinach is almost 50% protein) but you have to eat a lot of vegetables for it to be a meaningful protein source. Whole grains, like quinoa, are ok, too. And when you want  a high protein boost, pick something like vital wheat gluten which is basically wheat protein powder.  Anyways, enough with the lecture, more about implementing high protein meals.

I like Hilda’s book because it has over 100 recipes with an emphasis on a (soy-free) protein component. All are whole-foods based recipes. Recipes are marked as gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, and onion/garlic-free. Some are low-fat, some are higher fat.  She does not call for processed foods like fake meat, cheese or yogurt. The cookbook highlights the gamut of vegan protein selections – beans including chickpea flour, whole grains, nuts and seitan. She even has a soy-free tofu recipe to use in a satay tofu with an almond sauce, cauliflower parmigiana bake, bean and mushroom stroganoff and even pasta alla carbonara. I was most excited about the seitan recipes since I don’t make it nearly enough.

One of the paradoxes about eating vegan is that you explore new foods and increase your food options despite limiting meat and dairy consumption. I had never even heard of käsekrainer or a “kransky” before, let try alone a vegan version. Cheese-stuffed sausages are probably the antithesis of vegan eats but here is a vegan spin on it. An easy, flavourful steamed seitan is filled with a cashew cheese spread. I thought the cheese spread was absolutely delicious and was thrilled I had a bunch leftover. I don’t like nooch-heavy sauces but it was very well balanced. In fact, I preferred the cheese sauce before steaming as it lost its sharp, salty bite once in the sausage.

Certainly, I cannot vouch for its authenticity but I can tell you how it tastes: delicious. I shared it with Rob (who hadn’t had a kransky previously, either) who said it tasted 60% like sausage and 40% like cheese. It was 90% like cheese as the uncooked spread. With my recent infatuation with all things mustard, I thought it was perfect with a side of sauerkraut as well. (With a shout-out to this recipe that led me to finally making homemade sauerkraut successfully!!).

Hilda graciously allowed me to reproduce her recipe (it would have taken me so long to type up!) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH!  Please visit her blog and thank her! To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan protein and how you like to prepare it. The winner will be selected at random on March 10, 2014. Good luck!

Käsekrainer from High Protein Vegan

PS. Here’s a shout out to my latest raw brownie with over 7g of protein per serving without beans/legumes/protein powder. Not enough protein for a meal but I think it is great for a dessert. ;)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on February 22, 2014

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!

The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food, Dead Easy Desserts and Tea Time Treats.

PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)

PPS. Have you entered my giveaway for No Meat Athlete yet?
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Black Bean Soup with Roasted Red Peppers, Lime and Cilantro

Posted in Favourites, Soups by Janet M on February 20, 2014

Mexican Black Bean Soup with Roasted Red Peppers, Lime and Cilantro

First of all, you guys are awesome. You guys are word wizards! I love it!
(And yes, I realize there is a selection bias based on who chooses to write a comment, but still…)

Second of all, did you catch the recent posts all about beans? Like “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Avoid Eating Beans” on Breaking Muscle?  Or Ginny’s recent post on The Vegan RD called “Plant Protein: Why Vegans Need Beans“?  Both are very well done posts about beans.  Bucking the paleo trend, Jeff points out common (or quite uncommon) misconceptions about beans and why you should be eating them. Ginny makes a great case why beans are the best source of protein that is relevant for vegans and non-vegans alike.

You know it. Beans are my fuel, too. Oftentimes, I get stuck in the land of chickpeas and lentils when there are actually a lot more beans out there. With the Mexican slant in Houston, I have been gobbling up black beans with much gusto as of late. Mexican black bean dip, black bean tostadas, Mexican zucchini lasagna, black bean and sweet potato tamales and even black bean tortilla soup. And here we go with another Mexican-inspired black bean soup.

This is an absolutely delicious soup. However, there is an asterisk. It tastes good because you coax all the goodness out of each ingredient individually. Translation: it is a bit labour-intensive but so worth it.

Caramelize your onions and carrots. Roast your red bell pepper. Make your own Ancho chile puree. Freshly toast your cumin seeds. If you have the time, prepare your beans from scratch. Squirt on some lime juice and scatter cilantro throughout. Yeah.

Take the time to tend to this soup and you will not be disappointed. In fact, I recommend you double the recipe so that you can freeze your bounty.

Want to take the short cuts? I am sure this will still be a delicious soup: soften your onion and carrot with the red pepper, throw in your pre-cooked/canned beans, swap Ancho chile powder for the puree, forego the cumin toasting. It can all be done and will still be delicious.

Here’s to more more beans! :)

Mexican Black Bean Soup with Roasted Red Peppers, Lime and Cilantro

This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays. (more…)

Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 15, 2014

Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? I don’t think I have been told to celebrate Valentine’s Day more than yesterday (and I forgot to call my parents, OOPS!). It almost felt like a national holiday, with everyone at work asking about the evening plans, rushing to finish early for the weekend. Is it because Texans are just so friendly? Or because Americans love holidays?

Rob and I have never been big fan of V-Day, enjoying each other’s company more than anything else. Rare gifts and certainly no cards, this year was the most low-key ever. A nice dinner with friends. True to his word, Rob and Matt had a feast ready for me just as I stepped (pedalled) home: Holy Moley Veggie and Rice Soup and corn tortillas followed by Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. Actually, the order was reversed, we ate the dessert as an appetizer while we waited for the veggies to cook. I had offered to make dessert but Rob saved the day.

Rob also registered us for Cycle Oregon. Tent porter, and all: we’re committed. Lucky (or unlucky) for me, cycling is easier on me than walking.

After a few weeks of rest and recovery, I resumed my daily cycling commute this week. I also swapped my HIIT classes at the gym for weights. No impact and no balance required. Mostly upper body. My knees may be resting but I am certainly still keeping active. I don’t think my arms have ever worked so hard. Although while it would be nice to have a goal to do an unassisted pull-up (NOT happening anytime soon), I think a more realistic goal will be to be able to refill the water cooler at work without too much difficulty. I am a bad employee right now. If it is empty, I do not refill it. I can do it. I mean, I did it once, but it wasn’t pretty. More awkward than anything else but instead of potentially making a giant puddle, I am acknowledging and working within my limitations. ;)

Now about the food. For anyone looking for a fun twist on spaghetti, this is a delicious marinara sauce. A heartier, cooked version of my 15-minute garlic basil marinara sauce, I fortified the sauce with red lentils. The finishing raw garlic and basil made the sauce truly special. I swapped the raw zucchini noodles for winter’s veggie noodle: spaghetti squash. While those expecting a noodle replica will be disappointed, those looking for a fun veggie side will be thrilled. A new texture and a fun way to slurp up all the delicious sauce.

So, please tell me: how was your Valentine’s Day? Do you refill the water cooler?? :)

Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, Extra Veg, Pasta Please, Simple and in Season and Cooking with Herbs.

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Vegan Cheesy Chickpea Dip with Coconut Bacon

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on January 25, 2014

Vegan Cheddar Bacon Dip

I tried a little bit harder with this dip.

You had great suggestions for sprucing up my Mexican Black Bean Dip. It was all about the garnishes: salsa, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and tortillas were all great ideas.

This time I topped the dip with coconut bacon. (I will tell you about the delicious dip in a moment, but first: COCONUT BACON). This was not my first encounter with coconut bacon. I have tried it in many different iterations: lovingly inside a BLT at Aux Vivres, as a snack I brought to Burning Man courtesy of Phoney Baloney, and even a slippery, thick raw coconut bacon made from fresh coconut inside The Naked Sprout‘s BLT.

While I have made raw eggplant bacon before, coconut bacon had been on my hitlist for awhile. I even captured a picture of their ingredient list when I was at Aux Vivres. Definitely one of the benefits of them selling items to go. However, instead of using their ingredient list, I ran with Julie’s recommendation to add smoked paprika to the recipes floating around the web. It worked for the raw eggplant bacon so I was quickly sold on her smoked paprika pitch. It did not disappoint and I liked it better than anything else I had tried. The fact that it made so much is great because we are going to enjoy this for awhile.

Coconut Bacon

But don’t let me distract you from this dip. A cheesy chickpea spread with smoky undertones, it was a fun salty snack I served at our tamalada. We had some delicious chips that needed a dip and this was a great choice. Everyone approved and Rob is adamant about bringing it back into our dip repertoire. I won’t stop him.. and to give him due credit, I only crafted the recipes, Rob executed them with finesse… and then I cobbled together some photographs. :)

With the Superbowl, Academy Awards and the Olympics on the horizon, this may be the dip-friendly part of the year. If you would like other delicious dips, consider these, too:

Green Velvet Guacamole (aka Guacamame or Edamame Guacamole)

Edamame Miso Dip

Raw Zucchini Hummus

Ginger Lime Wasabi Edamame Hummus

Rosemary Pistachio Hummus

Hillbilly Hummus (Black Eyed Pea and Peanut Butter Hummus)

Mexican Black Bean Dip

Coconut Bacon

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food Challenge, this month’s Cheese Please, this month’s Spice Trail for paprika, and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Tomato Red Lentil Soup with Dill

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on January 23, 2014

I love it when Houston behaves itself.

Rob and I had another Canadian visitor recently. In between Polar Vortex 1 and Polar Vortex 2, Houstonians enjoyed balmy (normal) summery weather at its finest. You know, summer how it is meant to be: around 25ºC. None of that feels like 38ºC with 90% humidity forecast. None of that below freezing business (that’s tonight, by the way).

Together, we did more touristy things than we had ever done before: hiking next to alligators, admiring the Museum of Fine Art’s impressive gold collection, watching Americana in our backyard via the Martin Luther King Jr Parade. However, I still skipped out on the stereotypical NASA Space Center visit. We still shared our favourite haunts but explored new restaurants as well. Nearly every meal was pre-planned. My friend had so many restaurants she wanted to try!

After the whirlwind of a visit (if you knew my friend, you would know this is no overstatement), both Rob and my friend parted for Canada. One to Toronto and the other to Winnipeg. Both returned to temperatures around -20ºC (-4F). Yesterday, my friend in Winnipeg told me it was -40ºC with the windshield. For those that need a conversion to Fahrenheit, at -40, both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales collide. Collide and freeze. They are the same. Both, really, really cold.

With the imminent cold weather, I am sharing another warming soup. Red lentils are a perfect blank canvas for a hearty meal. Pureed tomatoes and red lentils are combined with cauliflower and brown rice in a broth spiced with cumin, mustard and dill. I never would have thought to combine those flavours together but the dill really brightened the dish. This is an excellent soup!

How have you been keeping warm lately?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

PS. The winner of Balanced Raw is Marquis. Congratulations! (more…)

Kabocha Squash, Coconut & Lentil Soup

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on January 14, 2014

Winter Squash, Coconut & Lentil Soup

I spoke too soon. It was cold but now it is warm.

Houston felt the “Polar Vortex“. The “Arctic Invasion” that froze Niagara Falls (!!) (on the American side) brought Houston to lows a bit below freezing. With the 90% humidity, -4ºC was quite chilly but nothing compared to what the rest of the country was feeling. But this weekend, the humidity and chills disappeared. It was a balmy 26ºC with (only!) 25% humidity and Rob and I celebrated by wearing shorts, visiting the beach and kayaking in the Galveston area bay. Yeah, it was summer once again.

Winter Squash, Coconut & Lentil Soup

People at work wonder why I am so happy, but even small victories like this make my heart sing. Every time I cycle to work, I am ecstatic. Instead of hurricanes, Houston was hit by a drought this year.  I have cycled to work every day, safe 3 days so far in the past 6 months. Snow, ice and rain will keep me off my bike, not cold weather alone.

Soups like this also make my tummy sing. It is filled with all great things: red lentils as a solid base, kabocha squash and coconut milk for a creamy backdrop, spiced with ginger and chile flakes, tempered by tamarind and lime juice with a lemongrass twist. The flavours meld perfectly and this is a soup that will definitely warm you up during a cold front.

Winter Squash, Coconut & Lentil Soup

Were you hit by the cold? I heard the vortex may return again. I am thinking warm thoughts for you.

If you like this soup, you may also enjoy these:

Butternut Squash and Coconut Indian Stew

Plantains and Cabbage with Split Peas

Thai Sweet Potato and Kabocha Squash Stew

Winter Squash, Coconut & Lentil Soup

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Top 13 Reader Favourite Recipes from 2013

Posted in Events/Round-Ups, Favourites by Janet M on January 3, 2014

Thank you for all your positive feedback from my top 13 favourite recipes. This is the first year I also looked through my blog stats and decided to share your favourite recipes you read on my blog last year. I was going to add them to my last post, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you.  Some oldie-but-goodies are in this list, so be sure to check them all out.

1. Apple Strudel (How to Make Authentic German Apfelstrudel)

My most popular recipe is not even vegan, but I am tickled pink that I keep reading everyone’s success with our family recipe for apple strudel. No store-bought phyllo dough here, we have authentic strudel dough. Who does not enjoy seeing step-by-step photos of my Oma making an apple strudel? (Also my top post last year).

2. Ethiopian Lentils in Berbere Sauce (Yemiser W’et)

We have gravitated to Ethiopian w’ets as they are cousins to simple Indian dals. Easy, flavourful and healthy. All good! Ethiopian restos can be hit-or-miss for me, as Ethiopian food tends to be even more spicy than Indian curries. I learned the hard way that Penzey’s berbere is way.too.spicy, but this recipe comes with a delicious blend for even the mild palate.

3. Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

You have good taste. This dessert was awesome. An almost raw cheesecake with nutella flavours from chocolate and hazelnuts.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

4. Raw Tacos with Walnut Taco Meat, Cashew Sour Cream and a Cherry Tomato Salsa

A raw cuisine classic, and it is no surprise why. Even the most serious meat eaters approved! The walnuts are easily crumbled into a mock ground beef and topped with a simple tomato salsa and cashew sour cream.

5. Spanish Chickpeas and Spinach with Roasted Garlic

If you could not tell, I really like chickpeas and they work well warmed. Here they are dressed up Spanish-style along with smoked paprika, roasted garlic, lemon and spinach for an easy weeknight meal.

Spanish Chickpeas and Spinach with Roasted Garlic

6. Almost Guiltless No-Bake Chocolate Mousse Pie 

A hit from last year, this chocolate mousse silk pie acquires its light silkiness from tofu. I promise you can’t taste it. This was so good, I also turned it into a chocolate mint no-churn ice cream.

7. Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha)

It boggles my mind that kik alicha, a simple Ethiopian split pea puree, is one of my post popular posts of the year. But it shouldn’t. It is a deliciously garlicky, silky dip/spread/thick stew. For those who think Ethiopian food is only hot-and-spicy, this will definitely prove you wrong.

8. Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro (Whole Foods Detox Salad)

This was a fun cilantro-lime twist on a broccoli and cauliflower rice salad originally popularized by taking the Whole Foods salad bar by storm. Sunflower seeds add crunch and dried currants add sweetness, making a fantastically popular salad.

9. Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

I was going to include this in my list of of favourite recipes from 2013, but I knew it would be repeated here, so I refrained. Coconut flour was revolutionary in my kitchen and this was my gateway dessert. A low-fat, nut-free, raw carrot cupcake made with carrots, topped with an apple-cashew frosting. Ingenious, no?

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

10. Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting

Bring on more cupcakes! I made these for Rob’s birthday and they were a hit. A lower oil cupcake made possible by adding mango puree to the cupcake batter. Spiked with vanilla and cardamom, they were topped with a mango-coconut buttercream frosting. The frosting melted by the end of the night, but the cupcakes were a winner.

Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

11. Vegan Okonomiyaki (aka Japanese Vegetable Pancake), As You Like It

I really like that some of my popular posts are quite non-traditional. This a vegan spin on the Japanese cabbage pancake. Instead of flour, tofu and cornstarch/arrowroot are used to bind the baked pancake together. Top with black sesame seeds, shredded nori, as well as okonomi sauce and Japanese-style mayo for the real deal.

12. Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla)

A staple in our kitchen, these are Indian-flavoured chickpea pancakes that Rob loves to whip together on weekends together. They are very flexible, so fill them with your vegetable odds-and-ends. Our newest favourite version incorporates kimchi into the batter.

13. Quinoa Wraps with Sweet Potato, Tofu Feta and a Sweet Tahini Dipping Sauce

This was a portable spin on an Ottolenghi-inspired salad with sweet potato, quinoa, wild rice and brown basmati rice with tofu feta and a sweet and creamy tahini dipping sauce. Wrap it in rice paper rolls for easier transportation, or leave it a salad in a bowl; it will be delicious either way.

14. Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad

A bonus #14 since we had a repeat for #3. Plus this is an oldie-but-goodie and worthwhile revisiting (or visiting if you have not tried it yet). Pan-fried chickpeas and toasted almonds are combined with artichoke hearts in an Italian marinade with lemon, basil and oregano.

What were your favourite finds from the year? Did I miss any of your favourites?

Favourite here, previously:

My 10 Favourite Recipes from 2010

My 11 Favourite Recipes from 2011

My 12 Favourite Recipes from 2012

My 13 Favourite Recipes from 2013

My Ongoing List of Favourite Recipes

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 2, 2014

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

Or rather, How I Spent My New Year’s Eve.

I loved your comments after I admitted I likely would not be able to stay up to see New Year’s Eve fireworks. You guys are the best.

What did I end up doing?

1. Working late. Not by choice, I swear. I usually take 2 weeks off for holidays, but hospitals can be super busy during the holidays. I don’t know whether this is worse in American, as people are eager to use the most of their insurance dollars before they need to pay their next deductible. At a cancer hospital, I would hope that finances would not keep people away from seeking treatment, but I try not to jump into those kinds of politics. PS. Did you catch last year’s article in the Times about American medical bills?

2. Chatting with my neighbour. Let it be known that Texans are super friendly. Since my neighbour is also a Canadian transplant, I appreciate his perspectives. He told me not to be alarmed that night. If I tuned in closely, I may hear gunshots at midnight (celebratory gunfire), to ring in the new year. Not that my neighbours would be shooting their guns (according to him, 3 of my other neighbours harbour guns), rather the noise may echo from outside Houston. While I originally planned to go to bed like normal, that convinced me to try to stay awake until midnight.

3. Travelled through chocolate.  With the best intentions of staying awake, Rob and I feasted on some chocolate. Our friend gifted us a chocolate passport, which small bars of dark chocolate from around the world. We travelled to Ecuador that night, and it was delicious.

4. Cozied up to Netflix. After stumbling upon a list of movies soon-to-be discontinued on Netflix, I jumped at the last chance to watch a long-time bookmarked but never-watched Requiem for a Dream. Excellent. (And true to the list, no longer available on Netflix). But it wasn’t midnight yet. Bringing out the kids in us, we watched Pingu episodes. They were hilarious, especially Pingu’s Lavatory Story (watch it! it is only 5 minutes!). Sadly, while it was only 10:30pm, my eyes were heavy and I could not stay awake.

So, I missed my chance to hear possible celebratory gunfire (still illegal in Texas, mind you).. and I need corroboratory evidence from my local readers. Is it true? My neighbour said he heard 4-5 shots at midnight.

Despite my lack of collard greens for my New Year’s Day black eyed peas, I ended up eating tacos on New Year’s Day. Not these ones, mind you (cleaning out the blog backlog!), but I will tell you more about that in due time. Ever since going to Mexico City, I have been smitten by tacos. The fresh corn tortillas blew my mind and I am working on finding a suitable replacement. Until then, fresh collards will have to suffice. A bit non-traditional, these lentil-based tacos were delicious. I had been meaning to make them for a while, especially after Johanna had success with them, too. Cauliflower is riced and added to up the hidden veggie content.  Leanne cautions against baking mashed beans and cauliflower, but this was delicious. It is all about the spices. With a nod to my delicious Ancho lentil tacos, I added copious amounts of Ancho chile powder. I topped it with a simple tomato-oregano salsa, a variation from the cilantro-based tomato salsa from my raw tacos.

I know I promised the top reader recipes from 2013 today, but stayed for it tomorrow, instead.

How did you enjoy your New Year’s Eve/Day festivities?

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

This is my submission to this month’s Cooking with Herbs, this month’s Extra Veg and to this month’s Feel Good Food for Tasty and Inexpensive.

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